Greetings, all! I have emerged from my brief respite, refreshed and ready to talk about role-playing games! And while I work on finishing The Last Story and writing a review, I thought that to pass the time we could look back on what is, I think, one of the most underrated RPG gems of the past generation- Tri-Ace's Resonance of Fate! As I'm sure you gathered from the title, you clever person, you.
*ahem* Anyways, Resonance of Fate (known as End of Eternity in Japan) was released in 2010 around the same time as two other major JRPG releases- White Knight Chronicles and Final Fantasy XIII. The less said about the former, the better, but perhaps releasing Resonance of Fate so close to the feral behemoth that is a numbered Final Fantasy game wasn't the wisest decision on the part of Sega. I myself didn't end up picking up a copy until two years later, where I was pleasantly surprised by this unique steampunk-flavored treat.
Resonance of Fate takes place in a world where mankind has polluted the Earth to the point where the surface has become uninhabitable. In order to survive, a massive tower known as Basel was constructed, and the remnants of humanity migrated to the tower. Time passes, and now society in Basel is based upon class- the rich and powerful live near the top in luxury, while those less fortunate live in the lower levels where there is greater danger from monsters and poisonous fumes. It is here that we meet our three main characters, Zephyr, Leanne, and Vashyron, a trio of mercenaries doing odd jobs for their upper-class clients in order to eke out a living. Perhaps the reason why I am inclined to look back on Resonance of Fate now is because, like The Last Story, this is a very character-centric narrative. Each of the three protagonists have skeletons in their closets that will be explored as the game progresses, and the banter and dialogue between them is so lively I almost didn't believe this was a Tri-Ace game. There is a central narrative thread that eventually comes together towards the end, and tangential world-building that can be inferred during the course of the game, but this is a character show first and foremost.
Regrettably, I never finished Resonance of Fate- as is often my tendency with RPGs, I tend to try and blitzkrieg the game when I realize I'm approaching the finale, often with suicidal results as I attempt to face the final boss with a grievously under-prepared party. I made it to the last chapter and found myself frustrated with what I perceived as a sudden difficulty spike, but in hindsight, I wasn't doing enough of the optional quests to properly level my characters and upgrade their gear. Resonance of Fate's flashy, gun-fu combat is it's claim to fame, and it is a good combat system, but requires a lot of trial and error in order to emerge victorious from the most intense battles. Perhaps by the time I reached the 50 hour mark I was feeling a little fed up with the combat system, but I really want to go back and replay the game to completion, which is a testament to how this game has stuck with me. If you ask me, I think Resonance of Fate is well worth the attention of an RPG gamer looking for a slightly different experience.